MisterSF.com Archives / Wedstock

Oops. Chronicle junk mail scrambles names of gay marrieds! Inside

May 8, 2004: In the wake of Wedstock, a minor controversy erupted when the City made a list of the 4,000 some-odd married gay couples available to marketers for a nominal fee. Many in the gay community objected out of concern for privacy, wondering if the list could be used by gay rights opponents or even the federal government to target the couples for harassment. Still others were offended that the names would be used for marketing purposes.

Apparently, database management isn't what it used to be. When the San Francisco Chronicle used the list to spam for paid wedding announcements, the names were completely scrambled. It only takes one misplaced delineator to pox the entire list! Dozens of couples emailed this site to note the error. Mister SF's "Chronicle husband" is James Packard. In real life, Hank Donat is married to Jeff Halpern. Packard, a Maryland-based real estate developer, married make-up artist Irwin Gomez in San Francisco on Feb. 17.

Update, May 20, 2004: The Chronicle later distributed a letter apologizing for the error. The follow up included additional marketing material which said the paper, "celebrates Gay Pride 2004 with a special section devoted to the remarkable events that transpired in San Francisco with the issuing of marriage licenses to more than 4,000 same-sex couples earlier this year."

The mailers beg the question, if the Chronicle is using its publication to herald gay weddings for profit, how can its editors justify taking lesbian newlyweds Rachel Gordon and Liz Mengelsdorf off the story? Should the paper take itself off the story because of its own vested interest? Or should it let Gordon and Mengelsdorf do their jobs?

Copyright 2004 Hank Donat
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